Sunday, March 31, 2013

Smash Episode 208: The Bells and Whistles

Jimmy keeps it simple at the Hit List rehearsal
So the whole Marilyn's mother thing was just a ploy to get Bernadette Peters as Ivy's mother, Tony winner Lee Conroy, back on the show and singing. Quel surprise. You'll recall that last week there was some minor chit-chat between Julia and Tom about restoring that role to the Bombshell script--although which script? The workshop? The Boston edition? The new dramaturge-approved, sex-in-the Berkshires, Follies-Ragtime-money-losing one? Anyway, last week new director Tom agreed with Julia to restore the role which was never in any of those scripts as far as I could tell. This week they kept talking about casting the Gladys role and mentioning Patti LuPone. I had to look up Gladys in a Monroe bio to find out this was MM's mom which Julia suddenly thinks is the crucial role of the whole show. To get some much-needed positive press, Eileen casts Lee in the part, setting the stage for future fireworks between mother and daughter.

Meanwhile, downtown on W. 4th Street, the battle of the jerks rages on as Derek and Jimmy lock horns on their little show Hit List. Derek wants huge video screens and Jimmy wants to keep it simple while dead-eyed Karen just wants to get into Jimmy's pants, as so does Kyle, but he settles for the lighting designer. There are actually TWO gay make-out scenes this week. Along with the Supreme Court hearing arguments for federal rights for gay couples, this marks the end of western civilization. The second dude-dude coupling is between Tom and Sam, the dancer returning from his tour of Book of Mormon. Blinded by love, Tom rashly promises Sam a part in Bombshell that would detract from the story, lengthen the running time, and  basically wreck the show. It's not a bad number with Sam performing as Nat King Cole at Tom's party just like they used to do on the Dick Van Dyke Show. After convincing Sam to quit his Mormon job, Julia convinces Tom to grow a pair and tell Sam the number is out.

We also finally meet Bombshell's PR person (played by Daphne Rubin-Vega) and they must have gotten tired of using Michael Reidel of the Post as himself to stand in for all of New York's theater press. Jamey Sheridan plays the Arts Editor of the NY Times, who would not attend a Broadway rehearsal himself in order to get a story.

Julia has to have something to do, so the writers drag up a grudge between her and Scotty, the artistic director of the Off-Bway theater where Hit List is playing. Something about her taking a play away from Scotty after promising he could direct it when it gets a slot at Lincoln Center with Mike Nichols as stager. (There aren't too many playwrights who are also lyricists and book writers, there are a few, but not many. Oh and by the way, I can't think of any composers who are also directors.) With Peter the dramaturge out of the picture in London, Julia has to have a conflict with tall, dark handsome guy.

Ana, Karen's roommate whose name we finally learn, gets her first solo number as she auditions for Derek on top of a bar. Sure the staff would let her do that. Derek makes the Hit List number simpler by having hundreds of dancers jump all around Jimmy while Karen stands like a zombie on the other side of the stage as he makes his way to her. Derek now goes from being Bob Fosse to Twyla Tharp. The episode ends with Karen and Jimmy finally getting it on and the previews indicate we'll learn the secret of his past and what he was doing in that crackhouse a couple of episodes ago.

Smash is now switching to Saturday nights after this Tuesday's episode, a bad omen for the series' future since no one watches prime time on Saturdays. Also Debra Messing is filming a pilot indicating she is ready to jump ship.

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